The Fordham Ram

Baseball Struggles Against UMass

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Baseball Struggles Against UMass

Joseph Serrapica struck out 10 over eight innings to salvage one win from the weekend series against UMass. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Joseph Serrapica struck out 10 over eight innings to salvage one win from the weekend series against UMass. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Joseph Serrapica struck out 10 over eight innings to salvage one win from the weekend series against UMass. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Joseph Serrapica struck out 10 over eight innings to salvage one win from the weekend series against UMass. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)


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By Sam Belden 

Joseph Serrapica struck out 10 over eight innings to salvage one win from the weekend series against UMass. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Joseph Serrapica struck out 10 over eight innings to salvage one win from the weekend series against UMass. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

While most students spent this past weekend enjoying a host of Spring Weekend activities, Fordham Baseball was hard at work at University of Massachusetts. There, the team played a three-game slate against the UMass Minutemen at Earl Lorden Field. The Rams’ usually competent pitching staff struggled in the first two contests, leading to Fordham’s first lost conference series this season.

The Rams struggled to find offensive momentum during Friday’s game, compiling just five hits. The Minutemen, on the other hand, were quick to put their power on display. Second baseman Ryan Lever hit a solo shot off junior starter Kirk Haynes, Jr. in the third inning, giving his team the first lead of the game. Two innings later, designated hitter Hunter Carey hit another home run. The Massachusetts hitters followed with four additional runs. All told, the Minutemen opened up a six-run lead through five innings, leading to Haynes’ removal from the game.

Thanks in part to a walk and a hit by pitch, Fordham managed to load the bases with one out in the top of the eighth inning. Freshman catcher Justin Bardwell hit a sacrifice fly to knock in the Rams’ first run of the day, but junior rightfielder Mark Donadio popped out on the next play to end the inning. Junior pitcher Parker Barnell allowed two runs in the bottom of the inning, which capped the scoring. Massachusetts took the game by a score of 8-1, dealing Fordham its most lopsided loss in nearly a month.

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader yielded the same final result, but it was much more hotly contested. Fordham’s offense finally came alive and made a spirited run at the victory but ultimately lost due to a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth.

In the second inning, junior centerfielder Jason Lundy’s single was misplayed by the leftfielder, allowing the Rams to score two runs. One inning later however, the Minutemen bounced back. Centerfielder Dylan Morris knocked in a run via a fielder’s choice, while catcher John Jennings went yard to bring home two more. Massachusetts rallied once again in the fifth frame, building a three-run lead.

The Rams mounted a comeback in the sixth inning. Bardwell walked and advanced to third thanks to a ground rule double from junior infielder Luke Stampfl. Soon after, Donadio hit a single up the middle to knock in both runners. Junior outfielder Ryan Mahoney then delivered with a two-run homer, giving his team the lead. Massachusetts pitcher Justin Lasko was removed from the game, but his replacement could not prevent the Rams from tacking on one more run towards the end of the inning.

Fordham failed to hold its lead. In the bottom of the sixth the Minutemen quickly tied things up, thanks in part to a wild pitch from junior starter Greg Weissert. The righty was removed from the game with seven earned runs and two strikeouts in five innings, but freshman pitcher Reiss Knehr got him off the hook for the loss. In fact, it was Knehr who ended up on the wrong side of the decision. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, he threw a wild pitch of his own to allow the winning run to cross the plate. Despite showing some hitting chops, the Rams lost the 8-7 heartbreaker.

Even so, head coach Kevin Leighton remained optimistic about his team. “Losing in the bottom of the ninth is tough,” he said. “We hurt ourselves at points in the game that allowed UMass to take that game, but overall we fought hard again, which is good to see.”

With the series already decided, Fordham took the field for the final game later that afternoon. This time the result was different. Senior starter Joseph Serrapica threw eight shutout innings and the Rams rode his performance to victory.

Fordham got off to an early lead when senior second baseman Joseph Runco singled home junior first baseman Matthew Kozuch in the first inning. One frame later, Kozuch hit a double to bring home Mahoney, stretching his team’s advantage to two runs. Most of the rest of the game was scoreless but the Rams did manage to pile on two insurance runs towards the end of the game. Kozuch hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, while Stampfl hit a home run, his fourth of the season, in the eighth.

Serrapica was the real star of the game. He allowed three hits over eight strong innings, striking out 10 and walking one. The New Jersey native now has a solid 3.19 ERA to go along with his 65 strikeouts in 62 innings this season.

While the Rams’ record fell to 9-6 after the series loss, there is still plenty of baseball to be played in the weeks ahead. The team is well aware of this fact. “The series definitely didn’t go the way we wanted, but I think we have to look at it and remind ourselves that there are no easy weekends in this league,” Leighton said.

Three conference weekends remain before the Atlantic 10 Championship. At the moment the Rams are tied for fourth in the conference, along with George Washington and Saint Joseph’s. While they are on pace to qualify for the postseason, Leighton knows that his team will need to be on its game if it wants to have a memorable campaign.

“We definitely can’t sit back on what we have done to date,” he said. “We have three tough opponents coming up and we have to stay focused if we want to make the playoffs.”

This weekend the Rams will return home to host George Washington. Action will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. at Fordham’s Houlihan Park. After that, they will face Saint Joseph’s on the road and Dayton at home before the A-10 Championship, which will be held at Fordham this year.

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Baseball Struggles Against UMass